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Voucher Students Make Gains

“Voucher students improve on reading, study finds”
by Erin Richards
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
February 26, 2012

A sample of students in Milwaukee’s private voucher schools made gains in reading in 2010-’11 that were significantly higher than those of a matched sample of peers in Milwaukee Public Schools, but math achievement remained the same last school year, according to the results of a multiyear study tracking students in both sectors.

The results of the study are being released Monday in Milwaukee as the final installment of an examination of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, or voucher program.

The longitudinal study – meaning it tracked the same set of students over the testing period – was conducted by the School Choice Demonstration Project, a nonpartisan research center at the University of Arkansas. The group was selected by the state to conduct a long-term study of the voucher program and its impact on Milwaukee.

Rather than looking at scores of all students, the study matched a sample of 2,727 voucher students in third through ninth grades in 2006 with an equal number of similar MPS students. The study used a complex statistical methodology based on growth models.

The study matched the random sample of students and found their achievement growth on the state’s annual standardized test to be about the same in math over the next four years, and about the same in reading for three of those four years.

The latest year of data shows the reading bump for the voucher students and represents the first time an achievement growth advantage has been observed for either the public school sample or the voucher school sample over the four-year period, according to the study. That finding casts the program in a slightly more favorable light than when the state released the fall 2010 results of the standardized test, known

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